State Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) and State Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) have failed three times to pass a bill that would award the in-state tuition benefit to illegal aliens but they are trying again this legislative session using the same argument about financial accessibility of in-state v. out-of-state tuition. A less expensive college tuition, however, is already available to illegal aliens and, it doesn’t require passing the Gardenhire/White bill.
University of the People (UoPeople) offers completely free “quality, online, degree-granting educational programs to any qualified student” including refugees, asylum seekers and illegal aliens:
Founded in 2009, University of the People is the first non-profit, tuition-free, accredited American online university. To date, the university has enrolled nearly 10,000 students from more than 200 countries and territories around the world – almost half of whom reside in the US. Recently, the university has seen a significant spike in enrollment from immigrants in the US, among those, refugees, DACA and undocumented students. According to a recent student survey, 69% of US-residing students reported being immigrants, of whom, approximately 30% are DACA or undocumented.
‘It is our duty to support anyone who wants to improve their lives through education,’ says [UoPeople founder] Reshef. ‘We believe firmly in higher education as a basic right for all and not a privilege for the few. The gates are open at UoPeople. Students can study online from wherever they are, regardless of their legal-status – toward a tuition-free, American accredited degree.’
UoPeople founder Shai Reshef is an Israeli “education entrepreneur” whose online university was accredited in 2014 by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. The online university touts an impressive slate of domestic and international academic leaders and has partnerships with major campus-based universities like UC Berkely that allow for credit transfers and degree completion at the student’s option.
Free tuition is sustained with a combination of support from major corporations like Google, foundation partners like the Clinton Global Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Processing and end-of-course assessment fees of $100 can be covered with scholarships provided by UoPeople.
A 4-year bachelor’s degree earned through UoPeople costs $4,000 compared to in-state tuition at the University of Tennessee Knoxville which costs approximately $13,000 per year not counting books and on-campus living expenses.
The regionally accredited Western Governors University Tennessee(WGUTN), another online, nonprofit university, also offers flat rate tuition of approximately $6,000 per year for most of its degree programs and possible scholarships. The tuition is a flat fee regardless of how many courses a student completes.
WGUTN instruction and course testing is available to anyone who has a “current, government-issued photo identification.” Beneficiaries of former President Obama’s DACA program are able to obtain a Tennessee driver’s license.
As part of his “Drive to 55” higher education agenda, in 2013, Governor Haslam was “integral” to establishing the WGUTN. The online university was established with a one-time appropriation of $5 million from the state of Tennessee and a $750,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Passing the Gardenhire/White in-state tuition bill dismantling state law would set a precedent for awarding state benefits to illegal aliens and would still be more expensive than other options already available to illegal aliens.
The Senate in-state tuition bill is in the Education Committee this Wednesday.